Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Bill to alleviate local jail overcrowding clears House

In sharp contrast to the drama surrounding Rep. Turners' probation bill this week, Rep. Madden's HB 2391 - perhaps the most important bill of the 80th Texas Legislature addressing county jail overcrowding - passed unanimously this week with nary peep from the "tuff on crime" set. Thank heavens. Now the bill heads to the Senate where I and probably most county sheriffs running overcrowded jails in the state hope it gets a favorable reception. What does the bill do? As I described it previously, HB 2391
would give police officers discretion to cite and summons instead of arrest for a handful of the most common petty crimes, including:
  • Marijuana possession, (up to 4 oz)
  • Criminal mischief with less than $500 damage
  • Graffiti with less than $500 damage
  • Theft by check with less than $500 stolen
  • Theft of service with less than $500 stolen
  • Contraband in a corrections facility (B misd. only)
  • Driving With an Invalid License
The Midland County jail administrator has supported the idea, as does the jail administrator in Bexar. Why? "It takes just as much time to book them and get rid of them (for misdemeanors) as it does a murderer," says Midland Sheriff's Captain Richard Sexton.
No other piece of legislation still moving in the 80th Texas Legislature does more to alleviate local county jail overcrowding, which somehow got sidelined as a major topic because of prison overcrowding and the TYC sex scandals. Lets hope the Senate acts on the bill quickly so legislators can point to at least one accomplishment addressing the statewide jail overcrowding crisis.


Anonymous said...

Any word on how the prosecutors or law enforcement lobbies feel about it?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I think they're okay with it b/c of jail overcrowding. No one opposed it in committee, see the witness list.

Anonymous said...

Who cares how the prosecutors feel about the bill. They all need to look for real jobs and if they want to make laws, then they should quit their jobs and run for Congress.

Most prosecutors are so corrupt and think they sit on thrones and they need to be knocked off those thrones and maybe some will with the upcoming election. They and the judges decide a person is guility and the person has to prove they are innocent and the deck is so stacked against them, they don't have a chance.

Trials have come down to who has the best actor, the defendent or the prosecutor and this is a disgrace to justice.

Anonymous said...

Consider Henderson County that is running at 96% capacity. A person I know was picked up for probation violation and his wife (who was awakened by officers walking into their home)was arrested for saying her husband was not there. I m thinking why in the world are they picking up people like this to add to the stressed out jail system. But if you read the local papers, you see that Judge Holstein is in every issue with his big Henderson county jail addition. I sure keeping the jail at capacity helps justify the need for his jail expansion project. This is the same judge that is proud of his environmental officer that took the place of the code officer. As he put it ...the environmental officer doesn't need a search warrant to go on someones property. Makes you wonder what other creative ways he has of ignoring the constitution.

Anonymous said...

Is it true or rumor? Apparently I am not the only one that has heard about this "so called new law in Texas," where instead of 50% of the time served for prisoners it might decrease to 33%.

I have read other people talk about it in my research, but have not been able to find anything solid to back it up? Does anyone know anything?